Perhaps you have seen it on facebook - the horrible "me, too" on your female friends statuses, a mark signifying that they have been (in some way) sexually assaulted or harassed.
The first time I saw it, my eyes widened. Oh no! My poor friend. I thought, "How bold of her to stand out in the face of rape. She is brave!" And then I saw another, and another, and another, and another, and another. My sad face emojis were everywhere. What on earth!
After seeing about fifteen of these statuses, I thought, "Wait, am I mistaken? Am I understanding this clearly? Are all of these people saying that they have been raped?" Or is sexual assault not rape? In my head, assault is a violent and brutal action taken against someone. Defining it further by explicitly calling out "sexual assault" is the equivalent of rape in my mind.
But maybe they are focusing on harassment. Maybe they have lost their job or felt threatened that they would by a male co-worker or boss. Maybe it's like those 70's movies where the dude is grabbing people's butts and pinching them and winking at their secretaries. I have never seen that in person, but maybe I'm not in that culture or maybe I'm just an oblivious moron.
So I thought about it. By the grace of God and his mercy, I haven't been harassed and I haven't been sexually assaulted. Maybe because from my sophomore year in college until I got married, almost all of my friends were male and they were a barrier to the bad guys. My brothas from anotha motha stood by me and kept an eye on me and any guy I dated knew that I had a pack of homeboys who would step up and pay them a visit with a baseball bat (if I didn't do it first) if a situation warranted it. It was never needed; mercifully, I didn't date guys who crossed the lines I drew.
But the truth is, I do have a few friends who were raped and some who were molested, and the actions of those men are deplorable and horrifying, but that is not the vast majority of my friends. This is not to be discounted. The men must be called to account and justice ought to be served to them. What of the masses saying otherwise, though? What is going on?
Perhaps the definition of harassment is wider in the minds of the rest of society and I am unaware. Maybe they don't mean just rape. Maybe they are including when a guy yells out his window at you that you're hot. Maybe they're including when you walk into a grocery store and a guy mumbles something to you. Maybe they mean when a guy walks over to you because he thinks you're good looking, calls you beautiful, and gives you the extra money on his expiring gift card to pay for gas because his tank is full and he can't use any more. Maybe it's the vast and interesting collection of weird stalkers you have that they are tossing into the pile. Maybe it is the honks and yells you get when running and biking. Maybe it's when a guy lets out a loud and exaggerated swear word with his buddies as he looks you up and down as you pass his table in a restaurant trying to make your way quietly to the bathroom. (Simma down nah, dawg.) Maybe it's the guy at Costco who writes the line on your receipt and tells you that you have the most beautiful smile he's ever seen and he says he has seen a million. Maybe it's the guy who takes your fingerprints and tells you that your scent is oh so pleasing and relaxing (no, my patchouli just reminds you of smoking down, bruh).
Here's the thing, and don't kill me for thinking this way. In order for me to truly feel harassed, I have to own these things. They have to get under my skin, they have to bother me, they have to define me, and they have to make me a victim to the whims of weirdos. Weirdos are weird, and they can keep it. I don't absorb it. What they're saying is on them, not on me. I do not feel victimized and I'm not a victim. I am amused at their oddity (and I'm glad I smell good, to be honest). They have to live with their weird little selves and their wild swears. I am doing my own thing and it doesn't include them. They are a blip in the day and they're gone. If I can avoid them, I will, but if I can't, they are nothing to me.
I don't want a culture where the appropriate men are terrified of speaking to women at all. That's idiotic. Say what you want, I have enough sense of self to keep your opinion outside of me. We're on this planet and we need to work together. We all have our quirky ways. If you individually offend someone, let them tell you, and fix it with that person. Some people are more sensitive than others. Yes, you need to not be a total bonobo, but for the love of all that is good, let's work this out one on one and not blanket society with the thought that all men are rapists and all women have been raped. Men are not all evil. (Well, they are because they are inherently sinners, but I don't mean that if you have three legs instead of two, you're a vicious predator.) Women are not victims.
I am thankful for the good men in my life - from my high school and college homies to the husbands of my friends, to the bros at church to my fellow athletes in the water and in the sport of triathlon, to the many males in my family and even the random strangers who have helped me in crisis - you are good, quality homies and I luh you. They bring admirable qualities to my world that I very much look up to. I am concerned that they are being demonized because others are total butthead sociopath jerkwads. If speaking out for what is right is what we're after, then I am here to speak up for them. I hope that their character speaks for itself to all they are surrounded by, but in case they are only seen as a male power-hungry potential rapists, I want to stand in the gap for them and say they're not all like that. They're not even mostly like that. The weirdos are few and far between and they are the glitches in the gene pool.
For those who have been assaulted, there is no excuse for those men. You are precious and they are wrong. They have something wrong with them, and you didn't deserve it - not under any circumstance. I am sorry that it happened to you and I wish you would have been protected from that situation and from them. If I could reach you, I'd give you a hug, and then I'd like to find them and blowtorch their faces off. They are horrible humans, and I'm sorry you experienced their depravity in that way.
Peace, love, and hugs,